Wednesday Night #1865

Written by  //  December 6, 2017  //  Wednesday Nights, Wednesday Nights Meta  //  Comments Off on Wednesday Night #1865


With headlines blaring news of the battle over tax reform, the backing of Roy Moore by Trump and the RNC, and the Michael Flynn story, it was probably inevitable that Donald Trump would find something to distract all observers and he certainly succeeded with Tuesday’s announcement: Trump tells Abbas he will move US embassy to Jerusalem and this comes on the heels of Talk of a Peace Plan That Snubs Palestinians Roils Middle East
The Hill tells us that Trump will announce [Wednesday] the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but will sign a waiver delaying the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to there, senior administration officials said Tuesday.
We note that the apparently beleaguered Rex Tillerson was in Europe at the time. Will we find out that this was Jared Kushner’s bright idea? According to the NYT, “Mr. Trump’s decision, a high-risk foray into the thicket of the Middle East, was driven not by diplomatic calculations but by a campaign promise. He appealed to evangelicals and ardently pro-Israel American Jews in 2016 by vowing to move the embassy, and advisers said on Tuesday he was determined to make good on his word.”

A propos Rex Tillerson, David Jones writes in The Metropolitain, Poor Morale at Department of State—Ho Hum. He notes: “I see it as a perennial problem over which State personnel obsess (but none note that our DOD armed forces colleagues have gone through repeated RIFs (Reductions in Force) over the years with considerable less angst).”

The unprecedented move by the IOC to bar Russia from the Winter Olympics paled in comparison. The announcement clarified that “The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound.”Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.” OUCH!

Note the symbolism of WN 1865 – in that year the American Civil War ended, and on 6 December, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was ratified, officially ending the institution of slavery. Gerald Ratzer will surely have more to add.

It wasn’t a good beginning of the week for Theresa May. What should have been quite smooth Brexit talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker were undone by her Irish ‘allies’. One could say that she was DUPed.
The account of shifting relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic in Open Canada, Bordering on Division , gives context to the potential problem posed by the two Irelands.
More on Brexit

Certainly it was a worse week for the late Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. [Yemen’s Saleh: A political murder mystery] Now what? Our hearts go out to the civilians who are enduring a dreadful humanitarian crisis.

Wednesday Night’s two Davids address recent events in Zimbabwe – and neither sounds optimistic:
David Jones: Zimbabwe: A New Beginning? and David Kilgour Reversing Zimbabwe’s Nightmare

Not a great start for PM Trudeau’s charm offensive in China, either, but while John Ivison asks Would it be too cynical to say China just ambushed Trudeau on trade talks?, a more reasoned (and seasoned) observer, Jeremy Kinsman cautions that these things take time – a lot of time: Canada and China are unlikely to reach a trade deal soon as Beijing won’t make concessions on key issues. [See No China-Canada trade deal yet in sight, ex-diplomat says]
The Canada-China Joint Statement on Climate Change and Clean Growth raises some questions, notably: “Canada and China will seek ways to expand our energy trade (including liquefied natural gas), as well as accelerate commercial progress in our nuclear energy sector, including through the joint development of the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor in China and third country markets, and the expanded trade of uranium.” – We welcome insights.

While we still don’t know the details of the Tax Reform Bill (and it seems many of those voting on it don’t either) one area of concern is the impact it may have on Trump’s infrastructure overhaul. As For Trump, GOP tax bill could have big downside points out “Not only would the tax overhaul use up one of the potential funding options for repairing infrastructure, it would also eliminate a financing tool that states have used to back a wide range of infrastructure projects. The tax package that passed the House last week would eliminate the deduction on tax-exempt private activity bonds, which are used by public-private partnerships to help build roads, highways, housing, hospitals, airports and other critical projects.
One of the less-well-known infrastructure problems is the network of inland waterways that serve commercial barges hauling grains for export. Dams and locks are well past their best-before date as Wooden dams and river jams: U.S. strains to ship record grains  makes abundantly clear.

Another long but very worthwhile read is Inside Trump’s Cruel Campaign Against the U.S.D.A.’s Scientists
Few people are aware of the incredible range of activities & programs of the USDA or its importance to rural and poor citizens. With key U.S.D.A. programs—from food stamps to meat inspection, to grants and loans for rural development, to school lunches—under siege, the agency’s greatest problem is that even the people it helps most don’t know what it does.
“… Its very name is seriously misleading—most of what it does has little to do with agriculture. It runs 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands, for instance. It is charged with inspecting almost all the animals people eat, including the nine billion birds a year. Buried inside it is a massive science program; a bank with $220 billion in assets; plus a large fleet of aircraft for firefighting. It monitors catfish farms. It maintains a shooting range inside its D.C. headquarters. It keeps an apiary on its roof, to study bee-colony collapse.
A small fraction of its massive annual budget ($164 billion in 2016) was actually spent on farmers, but it financed and managed all these programs in rural America—including the free school lunch for kids living near the poverty line. “I’m sitting there looking at this,” said Ali. “The U.S.D.A. had subsidized the apartment my family had lived in. The hospital we used. The fire department. The town’s water. The electricity. It had paid for the food I had eaten.

And finally, Why the Trump Team Should Fear the Logan Act which, aside from clarifying what the Logan Act is all about, raises an intriguing possibility of Mike Pence being the subject of impeachment proceedings. It is remote, but might reassure some of us who fear a Mike Pence presidency even more than a Trumpian one.

Food for thought – an enchanting argument for immigration What humans can learn about immigration from Africa’s tiniest carnivores  A new study shows it takes a little time before outsider dwarf mongooses will be trusted with a crucial job in a new group. But in these communities, immigrants are always welcome.

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